Monday Message Board

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link
You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

35 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @James Wimberley

    Public reactions to fuel price changes are psychologically interesting. They seem to be very unpredictable and often not at all proportionate to the real-world impact of the changes. I still recall back in 2003, when the petrol price in Australia first hit $1 per litre at the bowser, there was a massive public outcry that prompted the Howard government to abolish petrol price indexation at considerable cost to the public purse. Then just three or four years later, the price as over $1.65 per litre, and no-one was complaining about it at all.

  2. Unpredictable? Howard had introduced a regressive tax on the working class, including taxing the excise on car fuel, and reduced taxation for the rich. Not so different to the recent Macron triggers in France of removing the solidarity tax on wealth (impôt de solidarité sur la fortune, ISF) and substituting a personal fuel tax.

  3. @Svante
    Apologies, I now realise that petrol hit $1/litre in 2001, not 2003 as I said before.
    My point was that the fuel price point that caused an outrage was arbitrary. A much higher price a short time later did not cause a peep. I take it that you’re suggesting the outcry against petrol reaching $1/litre was essentially an outcry against the GST (notwithstanding that the GST did not cause the price increase). Given the timing, you may well be right about that.

  4. (Not deliberately hogging the mike, just lots of news and stimulating comments)
    Re gilets jaunes and Katowice miners. Simon Wren-Lewis has a good post up on economic geography. Capsule: cities have been doing well in the knowledge economy, towns have been stagnating. The gilets jaunes come from towns.

    Germany, especially the south, has many prosperous small towns based on Mittelstand manufacturing: an admirable model, but it’s not clear it can be extended to services.

    The Mittelstand is supported technologically by the large and effective Fraunhofer network in innovation. IP is shared.

  5. According to the ABC, the ALP has won 56 Lower House seats, the Greens 3, the Lib Nats 26 and independents have won 3. In the 40 seat Upper House ALP 18, Greens 1, Fiona Patten 1, Lib Nats 10 and Others 10.

    The Vic ALP is proposing heavy penalties including jail time for employers who cheat workers and they will make it much easier for workers to recoup unpaid money. From Premiers’ website:

    “Employers who deliberately underpay or don’t pay their workers will face up to 10 years jail under new laws to be introduced by a re-elected Andrews Labor Government.

    Too many Victorians are being exploited by unscrupulous employers, with the Fair Work Ombudsman recovering millions of dollars in unpaid wages and entitlements for workers every year.

    Under the proposed new laws, employers who deliberately withhold wages, superannuation or other employee entitlements, falsify employment records, or fail to keep employment records will face fines of up to $190,284 for individuals, $951,420 for companies and up to 10 years jail.

    The new laws will also make it faster, cheaper and easier for workers to get the money they are owed by their employer through the courts. For claims of up to $50,000, court filing fees will be lowered, claims will be heard within 30 days and court processes will be simplified.”

    Hopefully every state Labor government will commit to introduce similar laws, or even better, the federal Fair Work Act 2009 will be amended by a Shorten led ALP government to incorporate these changes.

  6. @ Harry Clarke

    Under the Fair Work Act 2009, workers do not have an unfettered right to refuse to work on a Public Holiday.

    The big supermarket chains are soulless meat grinders. If upper management want work done at a particular store on Xmas morning, the store manager will be under pressure to make sure that happens. That pressure will filter down.

    It is naive to think that a casual worker can say “no” to a “request” to work on Xmas Day without fear given they have no guarantee of ongoing employment and can be easily replaced.

    Even us atheists generally place a high value on Xmas Day.

  7. Then you are saying that Woolworths is lying. They claim the choice is completely free and that if enough workers decline they simply will not operate the store. You would want top be sure of your facts if you wish to indulge this union-driven paternalism. I know at least one worker who would be happy to get the penalty rates for 5 hours work.

  8. harryclarke

    I think you are being a little naive here. Woolworths’ corporate HQ might be completely genuine when they say that choice is free, but (I know for a fact) they put a lot of pressure on their regional managers to deliver sales, who in turn put a lot of pressure on their store managers (who in the hierarchy of supermarket companies can be thought of, at best, as foremen). It’s not a big leap to think that the store managers will put the hard word on their employees, who will feel pressured to say yes.

    Of course it may be that some workers would be happy to take the money. It’s possible for more than one thing to be true.

  9. @ Harry Clarke

    I base my opinion on what family members including one ex-store manager have told me. Admittedly, they all worked for Coles but I’ve been told Coles and Woolies have much the same culture.

    Sometimes paternalism, eg. compulsory seatbelts, delivers a net gain.

    As to unions, please compare living standards and labour conditions in countries with traditionally strong unions with countries that have traditionally had weak unions. Is a blue collar worker or low skilled white collar worker better off in Australia or the US? Truly, there is no comparison.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s